Walking trails a possibility in downtown

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045;&045; A Community Alliance subcommittee is working to establish designated walking trails throughout downtown to revitalize the area and locals’ health.

The alliance, a chamber-established group of business and community leaders working to find ways to revitalize the area, meets monthly.

So far, its subcommittee has identified at least three paths along the riverfront and on top of the bluff where it would like to see walking trails established.

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&uot;I feel confident we could get federal funds to do this,&uot; said City Engineer David Gardner, a member of the group. He estimated the project would cost $500,000. If federal TEA-21 funds could be obtained for the project, that would still leave a $100,000 match to be raised.

City Grants Coordinator Brett Brinegar said getting corporate contributions for the project is also a possibility.

Gardner said one way to boost the project’s chances of getting federal funds would be to make the case that it’s connected with the federal Natchez Trace Parkway extension &045;&045; via Franklin Street.

To show walkers where the designated trails are, brochures with color-coded routes would be placed downtown and color-coded arrows would be painted along the routes.

The alliance is also looking into getting public support and the necessary funds to establish a green space on part of the block bounded by Canal, Franklin, Main and Broadway streets.

The city is working to locate a hotel at the site, but sod could be laid at the site and it could be used for soccer and other recreation until a hotel is landed, alliance members said.

In other business Tammi Gardner, executive director of the Natchez Downtown Development Association, said a Natchez Blufftop Festival of the Arts is being planned for October as an NDDA fund-raiser.

She also mentioned that she is now collecting $25 from each business and resident downtown to use for planting and maintaining tree wells.